Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Book Review: Cuisine of the Sun: A Ray of Sunshine on Your Plate by Francois de Melogue

This is one cookbook, regardless of the tantalizing recipes, that would also be at home as a coffee table book. (It's that interesting to read!) Written and photographed by Chef Francois de Melogue, Cuisine of the Sun captivates the reader, and the reader’s taste buds, from the start.

Chef de Melogue
De Melogue pulls on his 20+ years as a chef of cross-culture cuisine to tempt us into trying our hand at his unique Mediterranean cooking style he calls “Cuisine Actuelle,” where he focuses on the natural flavors of the dish. Chef de Melogue has always had a love of food, wine and good times; friends nicknamed him Bacchus (after the Greek god of wine and merriment.)

De Melogue encourages the purchase of local ingredients from farmers markets and artisan farms for these recipes. Food that is purchased in-season and freshly picked simply tastes better, and the end result will astound.

But this is not a cookbook for those in a hurry. If you want to get dinner on in 30 minutes or less, steer clear. There are no premixed, premeasured dishes here. Chef de Melogue believes that cooking should take time and involve the senses, the mind, and the soul.

Pistou - Vegetable, Bean and Pasta Soup
On the same note, if you can’t improvise a bit, maybe you should be exploring the kitchen with Betty Crocker, not testing the culinary waters with Chef de Melogue, who has little use for oversimplified recipes, or dishes. According to de Melogue, “It’s ok to lose sight of the shores and venture fearless in search of new lands. I learned by watching my mother cook then trying, and failing, many times. It’s not how many times you fall in life that count, but how many times you stand back up.”

Chef de Melogue believes that food and emotions are strongly connected, so consider this book his passionate love letter to audacious foodies everywhere. As Harriet Van Horne said “Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”

And de Melogue is a man who is not afraid to live life to its fullest. He will joyously turn a traditional recipe on its head, and create a flavorful contemporary interpretation that astounds. The “Chef’s Notes” are invaluable. It’s the equivalent of having your own personal chef in the kitchen offering tips and tricks you didn’t know.

This is also a cookbook that shares a sense of place, yet timelessness, melding the traditional flavors of the Mediterranean with culinary convolutions that seduce the gastronomer. De Melogue’s writing style is composed of a bit of story telling with humorous, honest, and at times, mischievous details as he let’s the reader in on behind-the-scenes kitchen escapades at home, and in some of the most revered restaurants in the U.S. and France.

But Cuisine of the Sun is more than a cookbook. It is also a labor of love, and skill. Chef de Melogue imagined this Mediterranean cooking guide long before he launched his dream on KickStarter, a crowdfunding site, in August of 2015. On the first day of the project, 12% of the requested money was raised. Less than 10 days later, 60% of the financing was secured. By September 4, less than 30 days into the campaign, a gratified de Melogue had his financing for this spectacular book.

Roasted Beet Salad
Maman's Apple Tart
Peruse the Table of Contents and home cooks, as well as chefs, will be ready to indulge their foodie passions in the kitchen. Whether it’s the Roasted Beet Salad, a Simple Roast Chicken, Beef Cheek Daube, or Maman’s Apple Tart, cooks will find an honest approach, and delight in the recipes, which tempt and tantalize from the pages of this book.

Chef Francois de Melogue
De Melogue’s book is a joy; the writing is personal and witty, the recipes superb, and the photography stunning; he manages to capture little slices of life that appear to burst from the page.

Julia Child said it best, “No one is born a cook, one learns by doing.” And with Chef de Melogue’s guiding hand, you will learn from one of the best.

~ Joy

About the Author:
Francois de Melogue was born and raised in Chicago, but spent his summers growing up near Marseilles, France where he learned the culinary lifestyle of his family. De Melogue graduated at the top of his class from the New England Culinary Institute in 1985, and has worked in Provincial and pan-Mediterranean kitchens in France and the U.S. Check out his blog, EatTillYouBleed.

Book Details:
Cuisine of the Sun: A Ray of Sunshine on Your Plate
by Francois de Melogue
Published by
Available for purchase at Amazon in hardback, and for Kindle